China Leads Surge of Foreign Students into US Colleges

By LaFranchi, Howard | The Christian Science Monitor, November 16, 2009 | Go to article overview

China Leads Surge of Foreign Students into US Colleges


LaFranchi, Howard, The Christian Science Monitor


When Texas Gov. Rick Perry declared this "International Education Week," he waxed eloquent about the "era of global exchange" - American students heading abroad in increasing numbers, while foreign students flood Texas universities, returning home "with a greater understanding of the values we hold dear."

He might also have noted that the nearly 60,000 foreign students studying in Texas, constitute a critical economic boost for the state, particularly in lean times - paying professors' salaries, buying books, furnishing dorm rooms, clothing themselves, and eating.

An all-time high of 671,616 foreign students studied in US colleges and universities in the 2008-09 academic year, according to the annual Open Doors report by the Institute of International Education (IIE). All told, those students spent nearly $18 billion across the US, according to a separate report also issued today by NAFSA, a nonprofit association promoting international education.

Together, the two reports paint a picture of a world of increasingly globalized education: foreigners prize an American college education more and more every year, and American students consider some amount of study abroad a requisite part of their education.

Among the reports' highlights:

* China was largely responsible for the year's 8 percent growth in foreign students in the US, sending nearly one-quarter more students than last academic year - or about 98,000. But unlike in the past, more of those Chinese students are undergraduates - not graduate students - as wealthy Chinese families pay for the international gold standard in education for their one child.

* Four countries increased their number of America-bound students by 20 percent or more: China, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam. Vietnam vaulted into the Top 10 with nearly 13,000 students in the US - a 46 percent jump over the previous year. …

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